Around the AAC: week three conference results and what they mean for UCF

Graphic by Sarah Kelliher

UCF was off in week three after having its road matchup with North Carolina canceled due to Hurricane Florence. The idle Knights (2-0, 1-0 AAC) moved up to No. 16 in this week’s AP Poll and will return to Spectrum Stadium on Friday for a matchup with FAU. Before we get there, let’s take a look at what unfolded around the AAC this past weekend.

AAC East

Cincinnati: The Bearcats (3-0, 0-0 AAC) continued their hot start on Saturday with a 63-7 home win over Alabama A&M. Quarterback Desmond Ridder completed nine of his 10 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns, while Tavion Thomas also had a huge game. The freshman ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Cincinnati scored on its first six possessions and never gave the Bulldogs a chance.  Up Next: vs. Ohio

South Florida: The Bulls (3-0, 0-0 AAC) erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit on Saturday, scoring 18 unanswered points to beat Illinois 25-19. Quarterback Blake Barnett struggled early, but threw touchdowns from 14 and 50 yards out in the final quarter. He finished the day with 411 yards and two touchdowns to two interceptions. Jordan Cronkrite ran 22 times for 136 yards and a score. South Florida outgained Illinois 626-380. Up Next: vs. East Carolina

East Carolina: Due to Hurricane Florence, the Pirates (1-1, 0-0 AAC) had their game at then-No. 13 Virginia Tech canceled. Up Next: at South Florida

Temple: Two bad losses to start the season didn’t impact the Owls (1-2, 0-0 AAC) on Saturday as they upset Maryland 35-14 on the road. Temple took a 21-7 lead into halftime and later put the exclamation point on the victory with a late 78-yard pick six by Shaun Bradley. Ryquell Armstead was a big key on offense, rushing for 118 yards on 26 carries to set up a 264-yard, two-touchdown day for the Temple quarterbacks. The Owl defense held the Terrapins to just 195 total yards. Up Next: vs. Tulsa (Thursday)

UConn: The Huskies (1-2, 0-0 AAC) beat Rhode Island 56-49 on Saturday for their first victory of the season. Quarterback David Pindell was unstoppable, throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 137 yards and two scores. Kevin Mensah also had a big day, running for 144 yards and two touchdowns. UConn led 42-28 at halftime, but let the Rams back into it. Mensah’s 22-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds left sealed the first victory for the Huskies since last October. Up Next: at Syracuse

AAC West

Navy: The Midshipmen (2-1, 1-0 AAC) won their second straight game on Saturday, beating Lehigh 51-21. The game was tied 7-7 early on, but Navy went on a 41-0 run to put things out of reach. Malcolm Perry carried the ball 19 yards for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. The Midshipmen put up 629 total yards on offense and forced five turnovers on defense. Up Next: at SMU

Houston: The Cougars (2-1, 0-0 AAC) came up short in its quest for back-to-back Power Five wins, falling 63-49 to Texas Tech on Saturday. Quarterback D’Eriq King did what he could, throwing for 431 yards and five touchdowns on 30-of-51 passing. But the Houston defense couldn’t hold back the Red Raiders, allowing 704 yards of total offense. Texas Tech had just a one-possession lead heading into the fourth quarter, but scored 14 straight to put the game out of reach. Up Next: vs. Texas Southern

Tulane: The Green Wave (1-2, 0-0 AAC) came up short on Saturday, falling 31-24 at UAB. After falling behind 21-7 before halftime, they worked their way back into the game with a 17-3 run. The Blazers then pulled ahead on a 14-yard touchdown with 2:19 to go before ultimately holding on for the win. Tulane quarterback Jonathan Banks completed just seven of his 24 passes, but threw two touchdowns in the loss. Up Next: at No. 4 Ohio State

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane (1-2, 0-0 AAC) fell 29-20 at home to Arkansas State on Saturday. Quarterback Luke Skipper threw one touchdown and one interception, while Shamari Brooks ran for 115 yards on 21 carries. Tulsa trailed 27-10 at the end of the third quarter, but a 10-0 run gave the team some life. However, a Red Wolves safety made it a nine-point deficit that the Golden Hurricane never overcame.  Up Next: at Temple (Thursday)

SMU: The Mustangs (0-3, 0-0 AAC) never really got going on the road at then-No. 19 Michigan, eventually stumbling to a 45-20 loss. James Proche was the story of the day for SMU, as he caught 11 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Ben Hicks was replaced in the second half by freshman William Brown, who went on to complete 11 of his 17 passes for 82 yards and two scores. Up Next: vs. Navy

Memphis: The Tigers (2-1, 0-1 AAC) got back in the win column on Friday night with a 59-22 win over Georgia State. The end result was never in doubt, as the Memphis offense got going early with 21 points in the first quarter and 38 in the first half. There was no slowing down in the second half. Quarterback Brady White finished the night with 269 yards and five touchdowns while Darrell Henderson ran for 233 yards and two scores on just 14 carries. The offense as a whole put up 679 yards. Up Next: vs. South Alabama

What does this all mean for UCF?

With its game getting canceled, UCF had to sit back and watch the rest of the conference play this weekend. The Knights’ strength of schedule got a little better, with South Florida picking up another Power Five victory, Temple upsetting Maryland and Cincinnati staying perfect on the year. Memphis got back on track with an easy win as well, while Navy won its second straight. The schedule still isn’t all that strong for UCF, but the AAC is still working its way to more respect by going toe-to-toe, and frequently winning, games against Power Five opponents.

UCF is the favorite in the AAC East until further notice, but its I-4 rival South Florida is looking pretty solid through the first three games of the season. Cincinnati could be a dark horse, but it’s still likely that the Black Friday matchup between the Knights and Bulls will decide the division. Over in the AAC West, Houston took its first loss but still looks dangerous. The Cougars will have their hands full with Navy and Memphis, making for a three-team division race that should be interesting to watch.

About Bailey Adams 204 Articles
Bailey Adams is a senior writer covering UCF Football and Baseball for Knight Sports Now. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaileyJAdams22.